The Redondo Fun Factory: A Surreal Seaside Arcade
Story and photos by Leslie Veliz
The Fun Factory, located under a parking lot at the Redondo Beach Pier, is a strange place. It never changes, even if you notice something about it you hadn’t before. It’s a colorful mess; old street signs, shoes, stuffed animals, and just about everything else you can think of covers its walls.
Yet, that is the unusual appeal of the Fun Factory. Where else can you ride a Tilt-A-Whirl for only fifty cents on rainy days? Or spend a few quarters on Skee-Ball to win a lamentable prize? (Some prizes include Kirkland water bottles, a book titled “I'll Love You Forever: Accepting Your Child When Your Expectations Are Unfulfilled,” and a mystery box full of old cassettes and stickers.)
Since 1972, the Redondo Fun Factory has provided entertainment for Redondo Beach locals and tourists alike. So when it was announced back in 2017 that the vast arcade was slated to close in 2019, reactions from locals were mixed. Some said good riddance; others were devastated. The city of Redondo Beach decided it wanted a new luxury redevelopment project where the Fun Factory stands. In exchange, the Fun Factory's owner would receive $9 million.
And that’s how the story was supposed to end. The Fun Factory, like so many other places in Los Angeles, would be replaced by something shiny and new. Well...perhaps not. That luxury redevelopment project is currently on hold over a lawsuit that doesn’t seem like it's going to be resolved anytime soon. Even if the Fun Factory closed, all that would be left is a vacant building.
In late August, the Fun Factory’s owner decided they weren’t going anywhere. Their website defiantly states that they will be there, “....until the city kicks us out.” A banner stating their closure was torn off its doors. As of now, the arcade’s future is up in the air. Will the city actually kick them out? Or will they come up with some sort of agreement to keep the arcade open until the redevelopment project lawsuit gets sorted out? No one knows—not even the Fun Factory.
The truth is, there is no other place like the Fun Factory, and probably never will be again; it’s Coney Island meets Chuck E. Cheese. Its flashing lights and shrill sounds are reminiscent of a time where entertainment didn’t mean using an app on your phone.
Stand alone arcades are now becoming a thing of the past where Dave & Buster’s and Barcade’s are the future. Visit the Fun Factory before it’s too late. You might feel uneasy or pleasantly surprised, or perhaps both. Regardless, it’s something you should see, even if it’s for the last time.
The Fun Factory is open Fridays to Sundays. Hours vary, so check out their website for more details. An unsettling clown mural is next to the entrance; you can’t miss it!
Update: Since this story was written, The Fun Factory has announced it will be vacating by January 2020. No official closing date has been released.